Fedblog FedblogFedblog
Government Executive Editor in Chief Tom Shoop, along with other editors and staff correspondents, look at the federal bureaucracy from the outside in.

Government As Mother of the Internet

ARCHIVES
 Thinkstock
During a presidential campaign rife with tit-for-tat over whether successful small businesses owe any thanks to government, a related and revealing debate is unfolding in the opinion pages of The Wall Street Journal.

Last week, columnist L. Gordon Crovitz wrote a widely commented-on essay challenging the common claim that government research—in the form of the Advanced Research Projects Agency in the early 1970s—created what would become the Internet. He blasted President Obama for implying that government alone created the digital phenomenon, pointing out that government didn’t help build the Internet to create commercial opportunities and that companies that succeed on the Internet do not do so because of government.

In an update Monday, Crovitz wrote, “supporters of big government don’t want to hear about the private-sector contributions to the Internet, but today the Internet is defined by individuals using it for their own purposes,” a “boom” that, he says, “began in the mid-1990s when the government shut down its remaining role, leaving the Internet to the power of the people.”

Crovitz’s version was challenged in a letter also published by the Journal on Monday written by two of the acknowledged “fathers” of the Internet: Vincent Cerf, co-inventor of the TCP/IP protocols, and Stephen Wolff, director of the NSFnet that became the primary inter-network for higher education.

They tell a more complex tale of progress made via “many different government contracts,” adding that many private-sector corporations vigorously resisted some of the early protocols that became the industry standard. “The story of the Internet,” they write, “reveals a remarkable story of how government, academia and the private sector worked together over several decades to create one of the most revolutionary technologies ever invented and deployed on a large scale.”

Perhaps we need an online adjudicator to assign precise credit. Anyone have an email address for Al Gore?

Charlie Clark joined Government Executive in the fall of 2009. He has been on staff at The Washington Post, Congressional Quarterly, National Journal, Time-Life Books, Tax Analysts, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, and the National Center on Education and the Economy. He has written or edited online news, daily news stories, long features, wire copy, magazines, books and organizational media strategies.

FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.